Erotic Deception

By: Karen Cote

Chapter One



Lily slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed as the bumper flirted with the weed-edged road before a yank on the steering wheel righted the momentum and she screeched to a halt.

Protective instinct drove her hand to blanket her stomach as tiny beads of sweat heated her forehead like splintering glass. Her heart drummed in her chest from the near miss as Lily glanced down at her hand covering her abdomen.

A ridiculous reaction.

Her womb was empty and had been for years. It always would be.

But that was a different time. A different car. A different driver. Even if the old memory held eternal consequences.

Lily slapped away the self-pity and peeked over the hood of her car. Where had that damned deer come from? One minute there was nothing and then whammo, right there in front of her. Like Harry-freaking-Houdini.

She didn’t have time for this. She had to hide. To plan.

However, with her teeth chattering and knees knocking, Lily was in dire need of some composure especially if she wanted to make it to the lake cabin tonight. She focused on a gas station sign ahead, easing her foot off the brake and back onto the accelerator.

After taking the specified exit, Lily had to go an additional half mile and she didn’t miss the irony of Jake’s Oasis posted above the country store.

Pulling up to the old-fashioned pay-inside fuel pumps, she cast a wary glance at the dirt-covered windows of the adjacent store. With more grit than sense, she opened the car door and reeled back at the oven-like humidity. Somehow her keys fell out of her hand and ended up on the ground in a billowing cloud of dust.

“Damn!” She bent down to retrieve them.

“Afternoon.”

Lily jumped and cursed again when her head smacked against the inside door handle. A husky man in grease-covered overalls grinned through a wet wad of tobacco.

“Mighty fine car you got there. Needin’ some gas?”

Lily pushed her hair out of her face and encountered a friendly glance. Too friendly.

Without conceit, she hadn’t reached the age of twenty-nine before becoming aware that green eyes, long, blonde hair, and well-endowed, but slender, curved women got more than their fair-share of attention. Wanted or not. In this case, definitely not.

With a firm grasp on her keys, Lily grabbed her purse and stepped out of the car.

“Could you fill it up please?”

She didn’t wait for his answer before heading toward the entrance to the store. Her t-shirt clung in the heat and Lily self-consciously pulled the material away from her breasts.

The air inside wasn’t much cooler despite the air conditioner propped haphazardly in the window.

Another man stood at the cash register similar in stature to the first man. Lily acknowledged him with a nod and made her way to the freestanding aisles in the cramped room.

With little to choose from in the snack department, she settled on a candy bar. The diet soda from the refrigerated section was surprisingly cold. She carried both items to the cash register and placed them among the knick-knacks crowding the counter. The stench of smoke curled from a cigarette keeping company with about a gazillion other butts in a dirty ashtray. Lily stepped back to avoid it.

“Anything else you need?”

The same country drawl echoed the one from the man pumping her gas.

How far out of the city am I?

The man’s interest zoned in on her t-shirt and Lily instinctively hunched her shoulders and adjusted her arms to cut off his view.

“Just the gas,” she replied noting the nametag of Jake on his pocket. The owner?

A smile spread the man’s large nose to reveal twin-barrels of hair.

“Earl’s coming in now,” he said.

Relieved and eager to be on her way, Lily pulled out a bunch of bills.

Earl strolled toward them saying, “I cleaned the windshield, do you want me to check the oil?”

With a hasty shake of her head, Lily paid for the gas and the items on the counter. After giving a tip to a surprised Earl she didn’t have to look back to know they were watching her all the way to her car. She sent up a silent thanks when the Lexus purred at the first touch and without effort accelerated onto the semi-paved highway.

Goosebumps skipped along her arms. Where are the tourists? They definitely aren’t visiting Jake’s Oasis.

In her opinion, there was too much farmland and too little civilization here for her comfort level.

Turning back onto the main road put her more at ease and Lily reached for the diet soda and sighed. Where else can I go?

The police had been a mistake. It had only ended with an altercation with a fatheaded police officer who hadn’t believed her claims.

“I have no intentions of filing a complaint against the fine District Attorney,” he’d said.

Sudden tears blurred the Missouri afternoon scenery. For six months, pain had plagued Lily at the loss of her brother. The sole person left to her in the world…gone forever.

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